1969 Rewind: Game Thirty-three

MINNESOTA 3, BALTIMORE 2 IN BALTIMORE (13 INNINGS)

Date:  Tuesday, May 20.

Batting stars:  Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-5 with a home run, his ninth.

Pitching stars:  Jim Kaat pitched twelve innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on eight hits and four walks and striking out four.  Ron Perranoski pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Dave McNally pitched seven innings, giving up one run on three hits and no walks and striking out four.  Dave Johnson was 2-for-5.  Paul Blair was 1-for-6 with a home run, his ninth.

The game:  The Orioles put men on first and third with two out, but did not score.  The Twins got the scoring started in the fourth inning when Killebrew hit a two-out home run to put them up 1-0.

After Frank Robinson's two-out single in the third, Kaat retired eleven men in a row.  It would've been twelve, but Brooks Robinson reached on an error charged to third baseman Rick Renick.  It would prove costly.  Johnson singled and was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double, but Robinson went to third.  Andy Etchebarren was intentionally walked, but Curt Motton delivered a pinch-hit single to tie the score.

The teams combined to get zero hits from Motton's single until the bottom of the twelfth, when pitcher Marcelino Lopez got a two-out bunt single.  In the thirteenth the Twins put together consecutive one-out singles by Frank Quilici, Graig Nettles, and Ted Uhlaender to go ahead 2-1.  Kaat was allowed to bat for himself and came through with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.

Baltimore wasn't done, as Blair led off the bottom of the thirteenth with a home run to cut the margin to 3-2.  That brought in Perranoski, who retired the side on three consecutive ground outs to end the game.

WP:  Kaat (3-2).  LP:  Lopez (0-1).  S:  Perranoski (8).

Notes:  It was an interesting lineup that Billy Martin used.  Oliva was apparently not ready to play yet, so Cesar Tovar led off and played right field.  Rich Reese was still out, so Killebrew was at first base and Renick at third.  George Mitterwald caught in place of Johnny Roseboro.  Frank Quicili was at second base in place of Rod Carew.

Another interesting move is that Graig Nettles entered the game in the eighth as a pinch-hitter for Renick and took over at third base.  That's not the interesting part--the interesting part is that when the Twins got the lead in the thirteenth, Carew entered the game at second base and Quilici moved over to third in place of Nettles.  Now, Nettles is remembered as a great defensive third baseman.  Perhaps in 1969 he wasn't that great, or perhaps Quilici was better than I realize.

As we've discussed before, b-r.com doesn't give pitch counts for games in 1969, so I have no idea how many Kaat threw.  I wonder, though, when the last time is a pitcher went twelve innings in a game.  It has to be a day or two ago.

Kaat lowered his ERA from 3.42 to 2.88.  Perranoski dropped his ERA to 0.61.

The Twins really had a run in which they faced great pitchers.  McNally, Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, and now McNally again.  Those guys would put anybody in a batting slump.

One of the things we've lost with today's deep bullpens and short benches is professional pinch-hitters.  We've already talked about Gates Brown--Curt Motton was another one.  In 1969 he was used as a pinch-hitter 33 times, going 8-for-28 with five walks.  He hit two pinch-hit home runs and had an OPS as a pinch-hitter of .930.  Oddly, and I guess showing the vagaries of small sample size, this was the only good year he had as a pinch-hitter.  He never topped a .200 batting average as a pinch-hitter in any other season, and his career numbers are .168/.276/.305 in 153 pinch-hitting appearances.  When he did play the field he was an outfielder, usually in left, but he appeared in only 144 games in the outfield in an eight-year major league career.

Record:  The Twins were 20-13, in second place in the American League West, a half game behind Oakland.

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